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You can find reports from our Investment and Research team, timely and informative financial planning topics from our Wealth Management team, and deeper dives on various important topics in our white papers from any team member. Read online, share with friends, or download for your convenience.

Analysis and Implications of the Recent Decline in U.S. Purchasing Power

Recent weakness in the U.S. dollar has been one of the most talked about topics in financial markets over the last few months. With all of the chatter surrounding the greenback, it’s important to put the recent move in historical context and evaluate the implications a weaker dollar has on the economy and you the investor.

As the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) expands, governments and policy makers will need to make significant changes in their approach to modeling economics and in crafting policy guidelines for the new economy. The reason why this will be necessary is straightforward. Today’s economic models are based on theories originated in a time of scarcity. Productive capacity for many if not all goods were limited. Demand for products was relatively easy to identify and analyze. The equation was something along the lines of total income across all industries less savings and investments equaled total demand. Production of goods and services, with serious time lags, would catch up and then surpass demand and thus create economic boom and bust cycles. Later in economic history, we added credit expansion and market intermediaries that allowed for increased growth by leveraging the existing capital stock. 

The S&P 500 just did something that is hasn’t done in 15 months - it went down. February’s - 3.6% return was the first monthly decline since October 2016, marking the end of the longest monthly winning streak in the history of the index. The previous record streak was a 10-month period during the roaring 90s.

In January the IRS released withholding tables to reflect updated calculations under the new tax law. Most employees should have noticed a change in Federal tax withholdings by their mid-February paycheck. Using the new withholding calculator available on the IRS website will allow employees to double check their withholdings and request changes to their current withholdings if necessary.

Presented by Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®
Chief Investment Officer, Principal

On March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that the U.S. plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Markets around the world were shocked by the news, with major U.S. indices declining more than 1 percent just when it looked like they were recovering from the February downturn. Why did markets react so strongly? Is this a more serious threat going forward? In a word, yes.

First, let’s define what’s going on and why it matters.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In honor of President’s Day, we focus on this quote as one of the timeless elements of the American story.

The new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could change the way IRA owners take their Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) once they reach age 70 ½. Although the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) already was a viable option before the tax proposal became law in late 2017, the act does make QCDs a more attractive choice now than before for some people.

Although it can be difficult to plan for aging, it’s important to give consideration to how you would like to receive care in the event of a dementia diagnosis. According to a recent study, the lifetime risk of dementia at age 70 is 30.8% for men and 37.4% for women1.  Taking steps to create or clarify your plan before a dementia diagnosis occurs is important for your physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning

This past week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the 52nd Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning. For those unfamiliar with the Heckerling Institute, The University of Miami School of Law is host to this conference, and it is the nation's leading conference for estate planning professionals. Among those attending are attorneys, trust officers, accountants, wealth management professionals, elder law specialists, educators and non-profit advisors who are familiar with and work in estate planning.

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